So granted, this blog post has taken me over a month to complete but here it is! I received so many questions about our trip to Disneyland Paris in December and I didn’t want to do a half hearted post. I hope this will help those going to Disneyland for the next festive season.
I have broken the post down into sections that are likely to be most useful; hotel and Christmas decor (since you are visiting during the festive period!), special meet and greets, weather and of course, Christmas magic.
Booking / Hotel
So first and foremost, we decided that we wanted to book a festive trip to Disneyland about a year before we went. This enabled us to book with a deposit and do as much planning as possible. As always, we booked with Magic Breaks as this always works out as the cheapest option for us.
We booked for 2 nights in Newport Bay Hotel which included 3 day park tickets and a Disney mean plan. This was at a total cost of £720 so divided by 3, it was very reasonable. (Park tickets alone are very expensive). Because we fly instead of taking the Eurostar or boat, we get 3 full days in Disneyland and this is enough for us since we have worked out our trips and how to get the best out of them. Our flights were a total of £250 also which meant that our flight, accommodation, tickets and meal plan came into under £1,000 for us all.
As we booked a Disney hotel it meant that we also had the benefit of magic hours – I’ll get to that in a moment.
I really cannot stress this enough… you are very unlikely to get a better deal booking this all separately. When people talk about doing this on a budget I have found that their trips have never come out cheaper. This was a big mistake that we made on our first family trip to Disneyland for Ita’s first Birthday. For example, a one day ticket is “from” £76.52 (Disneyland paris website). Now times that by 3 (people) and then 3 again (days)… you get my jist.
Having checked on Booking.com for a hotel for 2 nights by Disneyland Paris, the cheapest was the Explorers Hotel (which is not a Disney hotel) and was £670. Staying here means there would be no magic hours and you would need to get a shuttle to and from the parks.
I really would suggest booking well in advance and taking advantage of a package deal.
The Newport Bay hotel was huge and we were placed on the basement floor close to the pool. Due to the size of the hotel, getting out alone took 15 minutes each time and then there was a further 10 minutes walk to the park. The rooms were decorated in a nautical theme and were very clean. I would definitely stay here again although I’d ask to be closer to the entrance/exit just for convenience.
Now, if you are staying at The Disney hotel, Newport Bay or Davy Crockers Ranch you could pay for your room to be festively decorated for about £250. We actually did book this extra and we were quite disappointed when it seemed like the hotel had forgotten! If you are planning to have your rooms decorated with a Christmas tree etc, I would advise emailing a week before to remind them.
I knew it was going to be cold. I completely expected it to be cold. We even bought a thick snow suit for Ita just to make sure that she didn’t get too cold whilst waiting around in queues. However nothing could have quite prepared me for the harsh wind! Because Disneyland is so open, it feels far colder than you expect. The snowsuit was a god send for Ita especially for the evening luminations on the castle.
Bring lots of layers and hats and gloves. Waterproof shoes are ideal because November/December can be quite wet. I would really recommend a snow suit for smaller children. If you prepare for it to be very cold you will have a much better time than if you don’t!
Disneyland Paris was beautiful decked out in the multicoloured Christmas decorations and the Disney Village especially felt very festive. I had read that people were a bit disappointed in that the decor wasn’t as OTT as you might imagine – I partially agree with that too. The main decoration is on/around Main Street USA. There is a Christmas scene set up at the bottom of Main Street just in front of the castle. I’ve been told that America goes wild for their decorations so I can’t wait to see that when we go. However, there was plenty of photo opportunities I thought (but agree they could add much more!).
Christmas Parades and Meet and Greets
There is lots of Christmas magic when it comes to the special parades put on at Disneyland. The Disney Christmas parade was a highlight of our trip and was something that Ita really enjoyed. The characters are dressed festively and the floats are thoroughly decorated too!
There is also Mickeys Magical Christmas Lights which is on at about 6.30pm (just before the fireworks). At Town Square, Santa, Mickey and Minnie have a seasonal sing-a-long before switching on the tree lights. It really is beautiful. The best way to view this is to stay on Main Street USA rather than Town Square.
There are special character additions over the Christmas period too including Stitch, Sandy Claws (Jack Skellington) and of course Santa himself! You can also meet Donald in his Christmas outfit but we we’re so disappointed to learn that you can’t meet Minnie or Mickey in theirs.
Stitch is out all day so the queues have peaks but also times where it will be quicker to meet him. We queued for about 45 minutes but Ita didn’t seem to mind at all and was so excited the entire wait.
To meet Jack Skellington you have to download the app Lineberty. At 9.30 daily, time slots are released for you to meet him. On the first day we couldn’t get an appointment at all and it did feel quite stressful. We got lucky on our second day when both myself and my husband were in the app, constantly refreshing, to be given an appointment for about 6 hours away.
A special greet that we managed to secure through Lineberty was also meeting Olaf over at the Studios park. we somehow managed to time this perfectly in that we meet Olaf and went straight into the Frozen song-a-long show. However, because of the app appointments we did have to cancel our dinner reservation at Agrabah Restaurant which was really disappointing and frankly frustrating. The restaurant would not budge at all and we’re so strict with times. We felt that Ita meeting Olaf would mean more to her but this is definitely one issue with the app.
Something that really was not publicised much at all was the fact that you could also meet Santa! He is inside at the Mickey greet point at the back of Fantasy Land. I was so happy to learn that you could meet Santa here but unless you have Magic Hours, I think it would be incredibly difficult to secure a meet. Firstly it is done by appointment only on the day. We used our magic hours to go and queue for an appointment. We queued for about 50 minutes and received our appointment to come back in a few hours. As you can see, it wasted quite a bit of time. I also think they could have tried harder surely 😂
These meet and greets were the only different ones to the usual planned ones I believe. Ita did have her heart set on meeting Marie but she was only available the week after we were there. Instead of Marie we met Thumper. You can’t really let this decide when you book to go since characters aren’t released beforehand.
This was something I was messages about quite a lot on Instagram – whether there was any themed food like in America. In short, not really.
We have always struggled to buy Disney themed snacks in DLP apart from in the Studio’s where there seems to be loads. We found that the only place there were Disney snacks was in a little hut in between the tea cups and the carousel.
Overall, we had a wonderful Christmas break to Disneyland and I would really recommend going at this time of the year. Could more be done to make it feel more festive? Possibly. More festive costumes and a bigger variety of things to do specifically for Christmas would be ideal. However, Ita loved meeting Santa Stitch and the shows were brilliant.
Would I recommend going at this time of the year? YES absolutely!